Netanyahu to French Jews after attacks: 'Israel is your home'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday told Jews in France that Israel is their home and his government wants them to immigrate.
"To all the Jews of France, all the Jews of Europe, I would like to say that Israel is not just the place in whose direction you pray, the state of Israel is your home," he said in a statement, referring to the Jewish practice of facing Jerusalem during prayer.
Four of the fatalities in France's three-day wave of violence were Jews killed in an attack on a kosher supermarket hours before the start of the Jewish Sabbath on Friday.
"This week, a special team of ministers will convene to advance steps to increase immigration from France and other countries in Europe that are suffering from terrible anti-Semitism.
"All Jews who want to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here warmly and with open arms. We will help you in your absorption here in our state that is also your state," Netanyahu said in the statement.
He claimed that “radical Islam” was a threat to western civilisation, including the Jewish people.
"Unless the world comes to its senses, terror will continue to strike in other places," he added.
Commentators critical of Netanyahu denounced on Twitter his urging of French Jews to leave for Israel.
Netanyahu, accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, will join world leaders in Paris Sunday for a rally in tribute to the victims which is expected to draw more than a million people.
Netanyahu named the four victims in Friday's hostage drama as Yoav Hattab, Philippe Braham, Yohan Cohen and Francois-Michel Saada.
"We express our deep sorrow for our Jewish brothers who were murdered simply because they were Jews," he said.
"(To) our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community of France we share your pain at the awful loss," he added.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls meanwhile sought to reassure his country's half-million strong Jewish community, saying during a visit to the Paris area where the supermarket siege took place that "France without the Jews of France is not France."
While Valls acknowledged worrying anti-Semitic trends, he said France was home to "the largest Jewish community in Europe and the oldest, which has contributed so much to the republic."
Lieberman met Saturday evening with foreign ministry and security officials to discuss repercussions of the attacks in France.
"The meeting discussed strengthening ties with the heads of the Jewish community in France and the security of the various institutions of the Jewish community there," ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.